SWISS provides CAPs over the WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM – 2018

Swiss F/A-18 taking-off from Meiringen AB for another QRA mission

In 2018, during the World Economic Forum (WEF) meetings the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) was flown from Meiringen AB from 22-27 January 2018 between 0700 until 2200 hours. Every hour, a pair of fully armed Boeing F/A-18s ‘Hornets’ flew CAP (Combat Air Patrol) missions overhead Davos (Switzerland), where the World Economic Forum (WEF) was held with political and business leaders participating. In order to protect the Davos airspace, the Swiss Air Force in cooperation with the Austrian Air Force, flew CAP missions daily. However, for the Meiringen Airbase in the snowy mountains of the Bern Kanton, this was the last time the QRA missions were flown from here as from 2019 onwards, the WEF-QRAs will be flown from Payerne Airbase; at Payerne Airbase, a 24/7 QRA will be setup to be fully operational in 2020.

Swiss F/A-18 in the early morning at Meiringen AB preparing for the first QRA mission of the day

Swiss F/A-18 with Tiger Tail taxiing after landing at Meiringen AB after a QRA mission

During 2018, WEF-QRAs, only F/A-18s flew CAP missions unlike in previous years where the Northrop F-5s also participated. Owing to the forthcoming retirement of the F-5s, they were removed from active CAP missions.

CAP Operations at Meiringen

During the WEF, the day at Meiringen AB began just like all other days. The runway was swept by the cleaning crew and the runway and taxi tracks were thoroughly inspected. Around half past eight, the first aircraft was launched for the WEF. A yellow mobile control tower was located at head of the runway and one could see which runway direction was in use. The flight direction changed several times a day at Meiringen because the wind was very variable in the mountains close by. At end of the runway, a barrier was set up for emergency landings. At start of the day, two F/A-18s which operated from the QRA shelters at the head of the runway at Meiringen were scrambled. The start-up and taxiing out of the aircraft took place within a maximum of ten minutes. The F/A-18s which flew CAP missions were armed with live weapons underwing which consisted of two AIM-120 AMRAAM radar-guided medium-range missiles at the intake suspension points and two AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range missiles on the wing tips. Under fuselage of the Hornets, was a large fuel tank pointed with the text STBY 121.50, being the frequency at which the air traffic controls and the Swiss emergency service had access to warn aircraft being intercepted.

Swiss F/A-18 landing at Meiringen AB after a QRA mission

All fighters took off at Meiringen with full afterburners, because the runway at this airfield was only 2250 metres long. Starting at 7am, QRA missions were flown non-stop upto 10pm every day and at any given time, there were four fighters airborne.

Joris van Boven and Alex van Noye

Tag:- WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM – 2018, SWISS F/A-18, QRA Mission, AIM-120 AMRAM Missile, AIM-9 Sidewinder Missile